More 8th Army tanks – A10’s, an A13, Valentines, Crusaders, a Grant and a Churchill!

This week I was able to finish off my 8th Army tank force for What a Tanker© games.  The group was composed of 9 Battlefront/Flames of War 15mm scale tanks – two A10 Cruiser Mark IIA’s, one A13 Cruiser Mark IVA, two Valentine tanks (a II and a III), two Crusader tanks (a II and a III), one M3 Grant, and one Churchill II.  These would add to my previous two A9 Cruiser Mark I’s and my two M3 Stuart “Honeys” tanks that I finished in November (those are discussed here).  Including a  couple of prepainted Matilda II’s that I had bought from Wargames Models in Ohio, my 8th Army force now has 15 tanks.  Noticeably absent from this group of course are the Sherman tanks that arrived in time for the British push at the Second Battle of El Alamein, but I am sure I’ll get to adding them eventually.  I wanted to have a group of earlier war tanks ending with the Grant and Churchill for now, as most folks are less familiar with them.

I did not take as many pictures in the assembly and painting processes this time as I wanted to get these done.  I need to move onto the Germans and the Italians!  My goal is to run these in What a Tanker© games at gaming club meetings and at local conventions.  I do feel that these, as well as my last tank project attempts, have been fun and have stretched my hobby skills a good bit.

I’ll cover each of the types individually, then some eye-candy shots at the end for your (I am hopeful) enjoyment.  Of course, I will list my paints and materials at the end for those interested.  I used my airbrush and standard brushes on all of these.

A10’s and A13

I finished three more cruiser tanks –  two A10 Mark IIA’s and one A13.

I find that cleaning, filing, and general preparation of these models does take a bit of time.  I know that washing the resin parts is very important.  My last step in cleaning the resin involves a gentle brush wash/application of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol to some of you) to it.  This has been helpful I think – you just need to let that dry before handling or you may leave fingerprints on the resin.  I also added radio antenna aerials with 24 gauge wire if the model would withstand the drilling and mounting process structurally.  Sometimes, I just could not add one without damaging the model.

3 a10 final with book (2)
One of the two A10’s as completed.  I went with a sandy look compared to the Caunter scheme I used on the A9’s, mainly for tabletop identification.  This is what I was aiming for, but of course I add pigments and dirty up my tanks!  Note that either the book or my model has a different skirt, possibly because mine were A10 Mark IIA’s.

During the war, compared to the A10’s, the A13’s were much faster due to the Christie suspension and a better engine.  Combat wise, they were not much better, and are not better in the game rules either.  They are adequate foes for Panzer II’s and some Italian light AFV’s.

On all of my tanks I tried to use different FoW decals that seemed to make sense – they are so small! Of course, getting the decals to look sand-worn was important, and the pigment helped.  Getting the decals to conform to the curved surfaces took many slow applications of Micro-Set, Micro-Sol, and Liquid decal film. Our hobby blog-guru Azazel mentioned using barely-moist sponges to lightly apply pigments, so I gave that a shot, especially on the decals.  While I think I got a darker look, it did made the decals look less out of place, and I liked the effect.

1 a13 final with book
My A13 and the painting scheme that I went with, minus the remnants of the blue Caunter camouflage pattern  – as I thought that bluish tinge would be nearly impossible to see at 15mm scale.

Valentines

I picked up the two Valentine infantry tanks on sale at two different hobby shops.  The track treads were a bit different.  Of note, the Valentine II needed significant reinforcing with green stuff to come together as it was either poorly designed or not well made.

For the Valentine II, I chose a Caunter camouflage scheme that was more bluish than what I had done previously with the A9’s or the Honeys.  That would help on the tabletop as well – and the biggest difficulty was masking the appropriate parts of the tank for airbrushing the blue.

5 valentine ii prepped for caunter
Valentine II masked for airbrushing the blue Caunter camouflage scheme.

I am not sure how effective the blue scheme was in WWII combat, but as the British abandoned it my guess is not very.  Still, it does look striking and different.

6 valentine ii final with book
My Valentine II versus its model in the book.  The red and white markers were too small for me to mask and paint, so I went with decals.  Also, the sides of my model differed a bit as well.  I chose to have a lighter blue – it was tough to bring myself to paint that bright of a blue on a tank!

For the Valentine III, I went with a camouflage scheme that was more brown and sand.  I also added two aerials to this one.

7 valentine iii final with book
The Valentine III and the paint scheme I emulated.  Once again, my pigment use darkened it, but in the eye-candy section below, you can see it better.

Crusaders

I definitely wanted to have a couple of Crusader cruiser tanks in my force.  They do look good, though in combat their armor was not effective enough against their Axis counterparts.

I decided to use two different painting schemes here as well.  The earlier Crusader II would get a sandy look, while the Crusader III would get a brown camouflage pattern.

4 crusader iii ready for camo
My Crusader III awaits the airbrushing of the brown camouflage.  Poster tack works great for this kind of masking.
5 crusader ii final with book
The finished Crusader II and the book version.
6 crusader iii final with book
The Crusader III was for me a mix of two images – first this one…
7 crusader iii final with book
and secondly this one.  Again, I want dirty tanks that look like they have been driving in the desert and not off the show room/museum floor.

M3 Grant

The British were not happy to get American tanks at first.  They did invent the tank after all in WWI, and they were proud of them.  They wanted the US to build British designs, but with the risk of the UK losing the war early on, we Americans balked and said we would only build US designs.  That way, if the British lost, we would not have our factories tooled for non-American designs.  One of these was the light tank M3 Stuart, another was the medium tank M3 Lee.  To placate the Brits, a different and more rounded turret was made than that of the American M3 Lee, and that is the major difference between a Grant and a Lee.  So, my tank is a Grant.  In doing my research, it was interesting to learn that the sponson-mounted 75mm gun was more prized (eventually) because it had an HE round.  That meant that the Grant 75 was far better able to deal with anti-tank gun crews, like the dreaded 88mm, than a solid shot AP round would have been.   In the turret, a 37mm gun was the main anti-tank weapon (though certainly the sponson gun was used in that role as well).

If the chassis looks familiar, yes, it was used as the basis for the M4 Sherman as well.

3 grant final with book
My Grant with its model – the light green was interesting to apply – better pictures in the eye-candy section below.

Churchill Mark II

The Churchill infantry tank made its unhappy debut in the costly Canadian forces raid at Dieppe (these were Churchill Mark I’s).  The Churchill Mark II was first used by the “Kingforce” detachment (6 Churchill II tanks) in North Africa in October 1942, and Churchills were used in that theater and in Western Europe throughout the rest of the war.

1 churchill ii in blister
The Churchill in the blister – I chose to make it a Churchill II as the Mark I was only at Dieppe.
2 churchill turret mounting
How I started painting the turrets – I later transitioned my approach to using drill holes in wooden blocks instead of styrofoam.  That approach worked much better.  The #14 2″ screw held a magnet and a steel washer, and the magnetized turret stayed on top for painting.

I then masked this big behemoth (for 15mm).  The effort on this tank took some doing – I needed a lot of poster tack.

3 before camo
Churchill tank awaits its desert camouflage paint job.
4 final with book
What I was going for – and again more dirty on mine.

Now my force was – as you Brits out there might say – “proper” in terms of game-worthiness.

1 lots of tanks
All of the 8th Army tanks I painted since November.

That concludes the history/what-I-did section – now for the…

Eye Candy

2 a10's right side
Right side view of the two A10’s.
3 a10's rear
Left rear view of the same A10’s approaching the village.
4 a13 side
The A13 patrols a village.
5 the 5 cruisers
Just for fun, I lined up all of my early Cruiser tanks in a convoy.
6 valentine ii by the well
The Valentine II, with its blue Caunter camouflage scheme, guards a well.
7 valentine ii by the wall
Opposite side view of the Valentine II.  I do like the muted appearance of the blue.  The decals were practically microscopic to work with!
8 valentine iii left side
The Valentine III with its brown camouflage pattern approaches a road.
9 valentine iii front facing
Head on view of the Valentine III.  For perspective, the front of this tank is little more than an inch wide, so this image is 3-4 times the size of the model.
10 the two valentines right sides
My two Valentines (soon to be a romantic comedy perhaps on the BBC?).
11 the two valentines facing front
Nice view of the fronts of the Valentines.  I had a bit of a concern with the tracks of the Valentine II on the left .  As you can see they are a slight bit off – and this was the one Valentine that I needed to reinforce during assembly.  Again, these are the things you notice when your picture is 3-4 times the size of the model!
12 crusader ii
Crusader II right side view.
13 crusader ii rear left view
Crusader II left rear view.
14 crusader iii side view
Left side view of my Crusader III with its camouflage scheme.
15 crusader iii rear view
Right rear view of the Crusader III.
16 two crusaders in front of the dune
The two Crusaders, not caped like Batman and Robin though…and this is not Gotham City…
17 grant in front of wall
Frontal view of the M3 Grant.  As a nod to its possible Canadian forces use and/or manufacture, I gave it a Canadian unit marking.  Many of the Grants were made in Montreal, at a locomotive plant.  AND I did this as a Bruins fan (its a hockey thing)!
18 grant side view
The light green camouflage is a little more visible here.  I did not want it to be overwhelming, but it is tough to photograph.
19 grant rear view
Entering the village.
20 churchill right side
My Churchill II, left side.
21 churchill left side
Right side of the Churchill II.  The camouflage painting on this and the others was fun.
22 churchill front side
Front view of the Churchill II.
23 traffic!
For even MORE fun, I convoyed all of my painted 8th Army tanks.
24 parking lot
Is this a motor pool or what?  Nice group shot – my Matilda II’s did not make the shot, but I only touched them up so they hardly deserve to be in this shot.  Still like them though, but they are kind of adopted…

Now it’s onto the Germans and Italians – which I hope to finish soon.  But never soon enough…

Thanks for looking, and I very much hope that you enjoyed seeing these.  Any favorites?  Feedback?  Winning lottery numbers?  Please leave me your thoughts in the comments section!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED ON THIS TANK GROUP:

  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  5. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  6. Battlefront “European Skin”
  7. Battlefront “Skin Shade” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “English Uniform”
  9. Battlefront “Crusader Sand”
  10. Vallejo “Desert Sand”
  11. Battlefront “Worn Canvas”
  12. FolkArt “Champagne”
  13. Battlefront “Black”
  14. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  15. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  16. Vallejo “Dark Sand”
  17. Battlefront “Dry Dust”
  18. Battlefront “Wool Brown”
  19. Battlefront “Boot Brown”
  20. Battlefront “Rommel Shade” (shade)
  21. Battlefront “Bradley Shade” (shade)
  22. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  23. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  24. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  25. Battlefront “Tommy Green”
  26. Gorilla Glue
  27. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  28. Tamiya masking tape
  29. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  30. Microscale Micro-Set
  31. Microscale Micro-Sol
  32. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  33. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  34. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  35. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  37. Aleene’s poster tack
  38. Vallejo Model Air “Blue Grey”
  39. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  40. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  41. Sponges
  42. Army Painter Quickshade “Light Tone” (wash)

Thanks again for looking and for sharing your feedback!

RESEARCH MATERIALS

As for research materials, I used the same ones as I cited before – but for completeness here they are in case you are interested (you can find them on Amazon):

  • Two by David Fletcher:
    • British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II
    • British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks
  • One by Jean Restayn:
    • WWII Tank Encyclopaedia, 1939-45
  • One by the Smithsonian/DK:
    • Tank: The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles
  • One by Michael Green:
    • Axis Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the Second World War (Images of War)
  • One by Robert Jackson:
    • Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia

I would easily recommend all of these books as good resources for gamers and modelers.

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

25 thoughts on “More 8th Army tanks – A10’s, an A13, Valentines, Crusaders, a Grant and a Churchill!”

  1. Crikey, Mark, you have been busy! An impressive array of tanks there. Good idea to use different paint schemes and markings to make them that bit easier to differentiate in action. My favourite’s the Churchill I think, but I like them all. Will be interesting to get your views on how they perform in a game, considering the differences between them, although I’d probably rate the Grant as having the most balanced capability, despite its configuration. Enjoyed all the background you included. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers as you say John! Agree, will be interesting to see them in a game but I suspect the early cruisers will have a questionable life expectancy on the battlefield. The Churchill is one of my faves as well, but the M3 Lee/Grant had such a unique look, and when I saw the one at the museum I was blown away. Also, that one was used in the movie 1941 http://www.war-movies.info/ww2/movie/1941-war-comedy. Anyways, appreciate the kind words and glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. As I say I like my tanks dirty, so they looked closer to the images before the pigments, but trying to identify what they should look like is not easy. Sources conflict and I think the saving graces are that nobody knows for sure if the painting and markings deviate from history and they are so small that it’s tough to tell! Glad you liked them.

      Like

  2. Very nice tanks , always a sucker for early armour !
    For the aerials have you tried brush bristles ? they are already black and not such a shock should you happen to hit your hand with one 🙂
    Also they can be stuck on the surface with a blob of PVA so no drilling required.
    regards Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for looking and I had not considered the bristles. I will the next time I have a fiddly mounting situation. The 24 gauge wire is pretty easy to use and I file the tips and sides so it’s not sharp at all and with the filing it holds paint very well. I can size it easily as well, but the bristle idea is intriguing. Thanks for that tip!

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      1. Gloss under the varnish area, then micro set, then micro sol. After that dries and is down properly, I put a coat of Liquid decal film over the decal. Let that dry, then I brush mat varnish on the decal. Then pigments, then final two coats of varnish over the entire tank.

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  3. These look great, Mark – I enjoyed the historical details on the tanks almost as much as looking at the eye candy. I’m sure your beloved Cleveland Bruins will win an NBA game soon, so don’t worry too much on that one! I’m imporssed by both the quantity and the quality, and using different, distinct camo on each type of tank will make them much easier to identify in games – and especially so for people unfamiliar with the different tanks!
    I’ve got caught up on some FoW plastic Shermans. Their early ones are truly abominable models, needing filler on both side of the hull glacis and with slots for mandatory magnets to hold the turrets on (and do you think I can find the right magnets?) Bleh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you meant the Boston Bruins and the NHL, so 😁 on that dig my friend. They lost in overtime last night to the dreaded Montreal Canadiens, so maybe my project cursed the Bruins…Not like I’d know what sports teams are in Australia for sure!

      As for the tanks, thanks for the plug on your December round up, it was my goal to get the Brits done but missed that goal. Been staying with the FoW resin/metal tanks, I like them and their heft, but man there have been some weird issues. Like missing a gun on a Panzer II kit of 5 tanks, or getting 2 left treads on a Panzer IVD kit. And there are NO assembly instructions on the Battlefront website for (GE070) the early Tiger I I’m doing (for your January challenge), and that model has nearly 20 pieces. One is a mystery to me! Battlefront customer service has done right by me so far, so I will stick with them. As for magnets, here’s the best I have found: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F162793688640 , love these.

      Nice to see them when you get done!

      Like

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